Planning a gap year?


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But feeling a little daunted?

Not sure which way to turn?

Wondering where you'll end up

And what might happen along the way?

Fear not!!

We have loads of tips and advice to share with you

From our own amazing Family Gap Year!

Gap Years for Grown Ups - Hot Tips & Advice

"The traveller was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience.  The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him.  He goes "sight-seeing."  - Daniel J. Boorstin


There are a thousand and one things you can do on a Gap Year, the trick seems to be knowing what to choose to do!
You can volunteer, be paid to work, you can indulge your spiritual side or spend a year learning a language or master the art of painting or ... the list is endless.

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Seasonal work. This comes in all shapes and sizes from fruit picking to ski chalet to yacht jobs to child care.

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Adventure tours is generally where you overland. This can be across any country or continent. There are many overland tour companies and this is a viable option for many who are a little cautious about tackling a cross continent expidition on their own. A well known overland company is Kumuka. who now offer package and tailormade holidays for the parent and child traveller.

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Adventure sports trips tend to be for the slightly mad lot who enjoy throwing themselves out of airplanes and off high bridges. These tours include Winter sports, Bungy jumping, Quad biking and Jet boating, White water Rafting, Sky diving, Scuba Diving, Climbing, Canyoning Paragliding, Hangliding etc

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Art, drama and music. So many people have a gift for art in some way with so little time to indulge it. 'Could have been a great artist' is not the best epitaph!

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Au pair work and Child care and care work, Being a nanny can be a wonderful chance to see the nitty gritty, the day to day minutiae of a family in a foreign country. It can also be a great opportunity to learn or master a new language.

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Community projects are an incredibly rewarding way to spend your gap year. For language clients wanting to use their skills and experience in a constructive way, there are companies that can arrange volunteer community projects in Latin America, such as an arts workshop in Havana; working with street children in Maceio, Brazil; in conservation projects in the cloud forests of Costa Rica; in a psychiatric hospital in Bolivia; in a kindergarten in Peru; teaching English in Ecuador. Living accommodation is with local families.

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Eco tourism and Conservation:
(Extract from the book) Coral Cay Conservation is a founding member of the Year Out Group. Hundreds of volunteers join CCC projects each year to assist in conserving fragile tropical marine and terrestrial environments. Programme description: The aim of CCC expeditions is to help gather scientific data for the protection and sustainable use of tropical resources and to provide alternative livelihood opportunities for local communities.
Destinations: Malaysia, the Philippines, Honduras and Fiji. Cuba programme due to start soon, probably with minimum age limit of 24 which makes it suitable for adult gappers. Number of placements per year: hundreds. Sites vary in the number of volunteers they can accommodate.
Prerequisites: No previous experience is required. Volunteers come from a diverse range of ages, nationalities and backgrounds but want to do something positive for the environment, learn new skills, meet new people and explore new environments.
Volunteers are provided with scientific and scuba diving tuition.

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Learn a language.
Having just spent five months trying to learn German from a CD so I teach my eldest I know full well the value of being in particular country to learn a language!

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Teaching
After sweating his way through a CELTA course one summer, Fergus Cooney (an aspiring musician from Scotland) turned to the Internet to find a job:

After installing myself in the cheapest net café in Edinburgh I began reading and posting e-mails here, there and everywhere. I also posted a message on Dave's eslcafe.com, a message stating 'Qualified teacher seeking job'. Within two days I was inundated with many dozens of replies requesting my CV and, more surprising, with job offers everywhere from Andorra to Zonguldak, through Italy, Poland, Turkey, Russia and too many to count from Korea, Taiwan and China. Jackpot, I thought. (I have since realised that many schools/agents must have an automatic reply system that e-mails those who advertise in the way I did.) I quickly began sifting through the replies but not as quickly as they kept arriving in my inbox. Before a few days had passed, I had become utterly confused and had forgotten which school was which, which Mr. Lee-Soo was which, etc. So I deleted them all, got a new e-mail address and posted a second more specific message on Dave's: 'Teacher with degree + CELTA seeks job in Italy/Spain.' This had the desired effect. A couple of days later my inbox began to fill though not overflow with replies. I still had to delete many from China etc. but could work with the rest and chose a school in Calabria.

As the head of science, Tom Inger is interested in ecology and wanted to explore a reef system. The Operation Wallacea expedition to Indonesia allowed him to qualify for an Open Water PADI qualification and then to work alongside a research team studying the health of the reef.

Our task was to monitor numbers of species of bugs and lobsters, starfish and invertebrates. Bomb-fishing has irreparably damaged the coral and the damage needs to be quantified. OpWall shares the research results with the local communities in an attempt to change harmful practices. There were 80 volunteers, mainly British and many of 'teacher age' including a family with two children aged five and six; the father is a diver and the mother a sociologist who was more interested in studying the local Bajo people. I had an absolutely brilliant time living in such a remote corner of the world, and also feel that the experience was professionally worthwhile too. Some of the Key Stage 3 and 4 lessons that I have given this year have been greatly improved by my first-hand experience. I enjoyed the experience so much that I am hoping to go to Honduras, again with OpWall, who are planning to initiate a new programme for 16 year olds interested in studying reef ecology during their A levels, and who will need supervisors. Obviously a secondary school science teacher would be ideal for this position.

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Humanitarian projects
Sarah had taken a pre-university gap year and also a third year abroad as a Language Assistant with the British Council in Guadeloupe, which had given her the taste for travel. She studied French and Italian at university but not Spanish which she was keen to learn. She also had a long-term interest in hands-on humanitarian work, so began trawling the Internet for suitable organisations. From the bewildering number of options, she gradually narrowed down her interests (e.g. rejected church-based projects, didn't want to work in an orphanage with young children).

After considering Cuba and the Dominican Republic, she settled on Mexico and came across Outreach International. She had enjoyed teaching secondary school age children (14-20) at a Lycée and looked for social projects working with that age group. Outreach International seemed to offer what she was looking for, the chance to work with street children in the resort of Puerta Vallarta on the Pacific coast. She checked its credentials and was satisfied and also approved of the fact that its programmes were neither the most expensive nor the cheapest. - Extract from Gap Year For Grown Ups - Susan Griffiths

Selma Shah was working as a system tester consultant for the online grocery home delivery business Ocado when she began to feel the need of a change and a different challenge: Meeting Venture Co at the Daily Telegraph Travel Adventure Exhibition at Olympia London got the ball rolling in early 2003.

I was impressed that an organisation existed that could offer me a programme that combined expedition, community work and language learning. Plus the destination was Patagonia which had been one of the places top on my list to explore. So I picked up the brochure and stored it away until one day in June that year when I decided I wanted to get off the corporate treadmill, recharge my batteries and get out of the rat race. The time felt right so I picked the phone up, made the call and went for the interview. Sabbatical leave was not part of company policy at that time. Because I had made my mind up I discussed it with the management and handed in my notice (with their full support).

I had experienced the travel bug before so knew that I could be quite disciplined in saving. The reality of my six months in South America was beyond the expectations I had built. I saw some of the most spectacular, breathtaking scenery and widened my knowledge barrier further. I can't say it was very easy returning to normality as initially I missed South America a lot. But with a positive mind you get through each day slowly and take things one step at a time. - Extract from Gap Year For Grown Ups - Susan Griffiths

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